A hero of ambient music has passed away as Harold Budd’s family confirmed that the famed composer had died at the age of 84 following complications after contracting COVID-19.
Budd’s career in music started at a very young age. Born in LA in 1936, Budd began playing the drums early on in life and enrolled at Los Angeles City College after he graduated high school and took a music theory course in harmony. It would be the first step from Budd towards his soon-to-be-iconic status as one of the world’s most intellectual musicians.
Known for his particular ability to create inspiring ambient soundscapes, Budd spent time in the army and played in a band during his time there. He worked with Albert Ayler before later studying under the guidance of the famous Gerald Strang at San Fernando Valley State College. While attending there, Budd received an inspirational visit from John Cage.
Cage, himself a renowned figure in music, delivered a speech entitled ‘Where Are We Going and What Are We Doing?’ to Budd and his classmates. It was later cited by Budd as one of his life’s biggest moments, saying it changed the way he thought about music.
Budd gained a graduate degree from the University of Southern California and released his first recorded work, The Oak of Golden Dreams in 1970. He continued making music and gained some real notoriety when he collaborated with Brian Eno on The Pavilion of Dreams eight years later. The pair continued to work with one another throughout the eighties and Budd’s work stretched on for his entire life.
Budd has a truly unique style of composition and he has always kept one part of the performance to himself: “I wrote a piece in 1972 called Madrigals of the Rose Angel, and it was sent off for a public performance back East somewhere. I wasn’t there, but I got the tape and I was absolutely appalled at how they missed the whole idea,” he recalled in 2005. “I told myself, ‘This is never going to happen again. From now on, I take full charge of any piano playing.’ That settled that.”